ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates
A Uighur Chinese man has been detained in the United Arab Emirates, after Emirati police officers arrested him on Thursday after he left afternoon prayers at the Abdullah bin Rawaha mosque in Sharjah, where he worked as a muezzin, the person who calls the prayer at mosques.
The man being detained is Abudujilili Supi.
According to his wife, who witnessed his arrest, he said that authorities gave no explanation about her husbands arrest.
Supi’s wife who has since fled to Turkey says her husband was being sent back to China, and that that authorities had yet to respond to his request to be sent to a safer country.
Supi spent four years studying Arabic and Islamic studies in Cairo before moving to the UAE, where his family said he resided legally.
While in Egypt, he had visited China twice on holiday without issue. But by early this year, reports were starting to surface detailing Beijing’s increasing repression of the Uighurs and other Muslim groups.
The government of China banned Islamic rituals, such as fasting during Ramadan, and established what they called “re-education” camps to force Uighurs to give up Islamic practices in the country’s Xinjiang region.
“Things were good, he was enjoying his job,” his brother Abdul Mijit said. adding that his brother had never fallen foul of the law: “We don’t have a problem with any government, we understand the laws of every country, and we obey the laws of where we are living.”
Mijit believes his brother’s arrest is part of China’s move to extend its persecution of the community to Uighurs living abroad.
In July, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the UAE, becoming the first leader of China to do so in 29 years. During the visit, the UAE and China announced a “comprehensive strategic partnership” to “enhance cooperation in all fields to higher levels”